ADEN: A suicide bombing in a south Yemen town recently recaptured by the army from al Qaeda forces killed 42 people and wounded 37, hospital and local government sources said on Sunday.
The bomber struck on Saturday in Jaar, one of a string of towns in Abyan province that were retaken by government troops in June after being held by al Qaeda loyalists for more than a year.
“An al Qaeda suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt during a mourning ceremony organised by the Popular Resistance Committees,” a local militia that fought alongside the army in its month-long counter-offensive, said provincial governor Jamal al-Aqal.
An official at the Razi hospital in Jaar said it had received the bodies of 24 of the dead, while medics said 12 people died of their wounds in three hospitals in the main southern city Aden.
Relatives took the bodies of six of the dead directly from the scene of the attack for burial, local official Mohsen bin Jamila said.
The 37 wounded were being treated in hospitals in Jaar and Aden.
The army announced in mid-June that it had recaptured Jaar and Zinjibar, Abyan’s provincial capital, from al Qaeda fighters who had held it since May.
But on Wednesday, an attack by al Qaeda militants on a police station in Jaar killed two soldiers and a civilian. Locals have expressed fears that the extremists could retake the town.
In the east of the country meanwhile, an official who requested anonymity, gave details of the drone attack, which he said had happened near the village of Al-Qotn, in the province of Hadramut.
“A drone fired two missiles at an all-terrain vehicle… killing its five occupants, all members of al Qaeda,” said the official.
Security forces deployed around the site of the strike and sealed it off, said witnesses.
The United States is the only country that has drones in the region and in recent months has been carrying out strikes on al Qaeda targets in the south and east of the country and in the Arabian peninsula.
Al Qaeda militants have carried out several deadly attacks against Yemeni security services since President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, who has repeatedly vowed to battle extremists, came to power this year.
In July, Yemen announced it had placed its security services on high alert to prevent “terrorist” attacks after it uncovered a plot to launch assaults against security and military checkpoints.
The Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is believed to be the most effective and lethal branch of the global network.